Welcome back to our weekly update.
For now, it is about COVID-19.
I hope someday I will have some other, more fun, and lighthearted material to talk about.
Thank you for continuing to provide feedback and for sharing this.
I endeavor to keep you up to date and informed about real science and real evidence.
There is simply too much nonsense out there, and I want to minimize the confusion.
As we do each week, we will review the bad news, then the good news, and I will end on my silver lining for the week.
There is much to learn from this terrible time. I see no value in dwelling or wallowing on this devastation.
I want something positive to come of this and will happily share my learnings from this week.
What’s the bad news?
It is shocking to write this.
But it is the truth.
The death toll from COVID-19 globally has surpassed 2 million.
This statistic is likely a considerable underestimate as our mortality data is limited by what is measured and reported, and probably many early fatalities were not correctly attributed to COVID.
Of course, in countries with more flawed data collection and health infrastructure, many people will not have been tested, and their deaths will not be included in this tally.
A scary statistic: it took eight months after COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan, China, for 1 million people to die.
It took less than four months after this to reach 2 million.
These are not statistics we want to see.
It is scary.
While COVID infection has caused many deaths, I also worry about another reason many are suffering and dying worldwide.
Not the illness per se, but the tragic and dramatic worsening of poverty around the world.
Many countries rely upon tourism as a source of income.
While some vulnerable people in Africa, South East Asia, South America, and other areas may not be dying of COVID-19 infection, many are suffering from starvation.
Countless families, and children, are suffering.
My heart breaks for them.
We have to get this under control.
What is happening in Canada?
Canada has had about 700,000 cases, with around 18,000 deaths.
We found out that Pfizer will be reducing shipments of their vaccine.
They can’t keep up.
I suspect it will be a while before the general population is vaccinated.
Many healthcare workers and those at the highest risk of illness, such as the elderly, are waiting.
We are told that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be by September 2021.
I hope this is true.
You may have heard about new modelling that was announced this week.
It predicts that we may see 2000 people dying from COVID-10 infection in the NEXT 10 DAYS!
And 100,000 new infections.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said, “Quick, strong, and sustained measures are needed to interrupt rapid growth and maintain COVID-19 control,” PHAC noted in its report.
“Reducing COVID-19 activity is urgently needed as the rollout of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines begins.”
Southern Ontario is not doing ok. Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well.
We talk about ‘waves’ of COVID-19.
Look at the current one.
It is a tsunami.
And it is gaining momentum.
I think this is self-explanatory.
This does not bode well.
I still hear people say they don’t want to be restricted or that they have civil liberties.
Or that this is a hoax.
You have no idea how that pains me.
I have colleagues that have died.
The pandemic is very real and very scary.
WE NEED TO STOP SEEING OTHER PEOPLE!
This is clear as day.
But many people feel they simply can’t do this.
But look at the data.
Ontario is in lockdown until at least February 11, though I am not entirely sure what this means.
Many businesses are still open, and I am unsure how some are ‘essential.’
Daycares are open.
Schools are closed.
The rules are pretty murky, and I understand why many people are legitimately unsure what they are allowed to do and not allowed to do.
By the way, I want to highlight again the significant inequities highlighted by this illness.
Racialized minorities and socioeconomically vulnerable populations continue to be overrepresented among those infected with COVID-19.
Non-healthcare-related essential work, such as in food supply, have higher rates of COVID-19 infection.
We need swift action to narrow this gap.
We should advocate for easier access to paid sick leave to prevent some people from working when sick to feed their families.
We should provide support with housing to minimize overcrowding.
We should ensure individuals, such as those doing deliveries or working in restaurants or grocery stores, can maintain social distance when this may prove more challenging.
What’s happening in the rest of the world?
Each week this becomes more shocking to write.
But here we go:
There have been over 95 MILLION cases of COVID-10 reported in the world.
Indeed, many more were not reported.
The CDC predicts that the ‘UK Strain’ of COVID-19, which we know to be more infectious, will be the more dominant strain in the United States by Spring.
This could mean a rapid rise in cases.
I can’t imagine what worse-than-this looks like.
There is a glimmer of good news, though.
This strain is more infectious, meaning it is easier to catch.
BUT it does not cause more severe illness.
And it is transmitted the same as the other strains.
So, the good news is, WE KNOW HOW TO PREVENT INFECTION.
Wash your hands.
Keep your distance.
Wear and mask…
PREVENTION WORKS PEOPLE!
Europe is getting its butt kicked.
The United Kingdom is tightening borders to prevent additional new variant strains from entering.
They are in a severe third wave with a very stretched healthcare system.
China has seen a resurgence of cases, particularly in the northern areas.
For some good news:
Many people in the Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northern Territories receive COVID vaccines to keep vulnerable populations healthy.
We discussed last week that Israel is on a mission to vaccinate the whole country.
They have now vaccinated 80% of the adults over age 60.
In the U.S, president-elect Joe Biden will use the Defence Production Act to ensure more COVID-19 vaccines are being made and delivered.
The Defence Production Act gives the American government authority to have private companies meet their needs.
They plan to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days.
This is a BIG FEAT!
They also want to enable pharmacies and mobile clinics to provide vaccines in underserviced communities.
To do so, they plan to increase the number of healthcare workers providing the vaccines.
One of the most common questions I was asked this week was:
Does Ivermectin work?
or .. Does Hydroxychloroquine work?
I have been asked about these a lot in recent weeks.
I am going to answer simply.
Based on what we know now, they do not.
But steroids do, as we have discussed.
And guess what?
Dexamethasone is cheap AND evidence-based!
Dr. Dina, what is your silver lining for the week?
I am fortunate and thankful to have an essential job and one where I can continue interacting in person with families every day.
I am an extrovert and get my energy from being around others.
To be honest, if I could not see people in person, I would be a mess.
I hope it doesn’t come to that!
I am incredibly inspired by my patients and their families.
Parents put the pandemic into perspective, rising above the stresses and challenges and finding they are more resilient than they could have ever imagined.
They can cope far better than they thought.
They can pivot more quickly.
Parents may feel like life is a bit of a ___ show right now, but they are keeping it together, and their kids are seeing us succeed, even if we feel like we are about to drop all the balls in the air.
I am impressed every day.
I have much respect and admiration for you all.
I know this is a terrible time.
I know you are exhausted.
Like TO. THE. BONE.
I am sorry you, and we, are going through this.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
We just have to remain cautious to prevent this from getting worse.
As always, I wish you and your loved one’s health and safety and happiness.
See you next week
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Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.